Stylish and substantive, with a supernatural sense of metaphor and a massive vocabulary, Lupe Fiasco is one of his generation’s finest rhymers. Returning with his first new album since 2018, Lupe shares DRILL MUSIC IN ZION. The product of a burst of thoughtful spontaneity, Lupe created the new album over a short period, diving into a folder of beats sent by Soundtrakk and emerging with a fully-realized album in just three days (“Sometimes deadlines are lifelines,” says Lupe). The title juxtaposes the street music of his hometown of Chicago–music that emerged as a way of dealing with hellish living conditions–with the biblical promised land, positing that art created out of pain might not be worth the pain itself.
“I’m trying to find a balance between the whimsy and the profound,” says Lupe.
Though it was created quickly, Lupe’s eighth studio album is packed with the twisty narratives and layered meanings that have become Lupe’s trademark, spliced with incisive social commentary and winking observations about the way we live today. The new album is home to the recent single “AUTOBOTO,” a mischievous, playful, and deceptively dense single that finds Lupe weaving his precise barbs around Soundtrakk’s arpeggiating guitars, as well as the title track, a jazz-inflected track that slyly comments on how art created amidst strife becomes commodified entertainment for the masses.
Other highlights include “NAOMI,” in which Lupe fuses playful political analysis with poignant emotional resonance, and “MS. MURAL,” which continues a series of songs that started on 2014’s Tetsuo & Youth (“Mural”) and continued with his last album DROGAS WAVE (“Mural Jr.”). As usual, Lupe stuns with his verbosity, but one of the album’s most powerful moments occurs when he decides to hold back, on album closer, “ON FAUX NEM,” Lupe spits: “Rappers die too much, that’s it, that’s the verse.” He cedes the spotlight to his sister, the poet Ayesha Jaco on the album intro “The Lion’s Deen,” allowing her to explore various interpretations of the album’s title.
DRILL MUSIC IN ZION is Lupe’s first new album since 2018’s DROGAS WAVE, but the proud Chicago native has already had a busy 2022, marked with sold-out shows, new music, and much more. Last week, Lupe shared “Galveston,” an Apple Music-exclusive track that explores the origins of Juneteenth. Lupe recently closed out his “Food & Liquor Tour,” a series of performances in which he plays his debut album in full. He paid tribute to his hometown in the reflective, self-produced “100 Chicagos,” and dug into the archives to share “Hustlaz,” a previously-unreleased song originally recorded before the release of the now-classic debut album Food & Liquor.
Lupe recently launched his “LFT” program, a new NFT program that allows fans to get closer than ever to Lupe. Unlike many NFTs, which solely exist in the digital space, the “LFT” program offers token-holders an array of online and offline benefits. The benefits start with a generative art profile pic–each LFT holder gets a unique digital artwork inspired by Lupe’s album Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, which celebrates its 15th birthday this year. Beyond music, Lupe continues to focus on the community organizations he founded, including We Are M.U.R.A.L, The Neighborhood Start-Up Fund, Society of Spoken Art, and his cross-cultural content venture, Studio SV.
With DRILL MUSIC IN ZION, Lupe starts another chapter in his illustrious career, but he’s not done growing.
“Your whole life you’re physically growing, and as an artist, I feel like I’m taller now,” says Lupe. “Not that I’m at a higher place of morality, it’s that my vantage point and perspective are higher. I can see further.”
DRILL MUSIC IN ZION is available everywhere via 1st & 15th/Thirty Tigers.
Buy/Stream DRILL MUSIC IN ZION: https://orcd.co/dmiz
Check out full details about “LFT” at Henka.io: http://henka.io/
© 2022, Seth Barmash. All rights reserved.